Ten Reasons NOT to "Go Greyhound"

James R. Coffey By James R. Coffey, 6th Sep 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/jijdhs0y/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Transport>Buses

If you've had any thoughts about traveling across America--or even across your state--by Greyhound Bus, you may want to first read this article to find out what you're in for.

Going Greyhound

Let me first say that I am not anti bus-ride per se. In fact, for most of my life I was a stanch advocate for bus travel and thought that anyone who looked down on "Going Greyhound" simply hadn’t experienced the pleasure of bus travel for themselves as I had. And while I continue to advocate utilizing buses when traveling outside the US, I’ve now joined the ranks of those who’d rather hitch-hike coast to coast than endure another Greyhound ride. And here are the top ten reasons why.


“Fares are subject to change.” Make no mistake about this disclaimer, rates can and do change drastically within the span of hours. And never assume that a round-trip ticket is cheaper than two one-ways. Pay close attention to what you are charged at the ticket counter and never assume the agent will point out the best deal. (Also, do not automatically assume that bus fares are cheaper than air fares. Currently, this is often not the case.)

2. ETA

“Greyhound does not guarantee departure or arrival times.” Not only does Greyhound not guarantee when your bus will leave, it will not even guarantee that you’ll be on it--even if you arrive an hour ahead of time as they suggest. Due to their practice of over-booking, you may find yourself without a seat even if you’ve booked your spot weeks in advance, and even if you’ve paid extra for “reserved seating.” And should you be the unfortunate victim of “seat bumping,” keep in mind that not only are you not guaranteed a seat on the next bus, your destination ETA can be thrown off by several hours—even days—due to missing those all-essential connections. Additionally, should your bus be behind schedule, broken down, or pulled from the route (as is sometimes the case), do not expect to be informed or forewarned. Ticket takers may well tell you that your bus will arrive ‘any time now,’ while minutes turn into hours.


Don’t be surprised if you’re subjected not only to a metal-detector scan, but to having your bags thoroughly searched item by item, inside and out. While some terminals seem to have no policy whatsoever regarding what you can and cannot bring onboard (I saw a man carry on a mechanic’s toolbox full of tools while another brought a bag full of gardening implements), others arbitrarily confiscate pencils and pens, nail files, knitting needles, and anything else that could possibly be construed as a weapon (which includes most anything, if you think about it). Also, when arriving at a transfer terminal along your journey, expect local boarders to be lined up well in advance of your arrival. It is quite possible to be bumped-off your scheduled route if more tickets were sold than your bus can accommodate; and do not assume you’ll be given special priority no matter what you’re told. Additionally, at some point on a long trip you’ll be asked to disembark the bus for the purpose of bus maintenance, at which time you’ll be given a re-board pass. Often these re-board passes are completely ignored, making it quite possible to be bumped off the very bus your baggage is on.


Trash-littered floors, unsanitary restrooms (with no toilet paper, water, or hand sanitizer), malfunctioning air-conditioning, filthy windows, and stained seats are more and more often the norm. (Factored together, these can result in the most unpleasant odors imaginable.) And lest I be remiss, be aware that newer buses are built to accommodate more seats—meaning less leg-room. And even though Greyhound is required to make periodic rest and food stops along the way, depending on the schedule, these stops may amount to nothing more than 5-minute dash-and-grabs at over-priced fast-food chains where a long line may mean those in the rear have no time order. So unless you don’t mind indigestion (and dare I say, the one thing you don’t want on a bus ride: diarrhea), bring your own food and beverages.


Rather than imagine that your luggage may get lost along the journey, just assume that at some point it will. Even though you may actually witness your bags being placed (thrown more often than not) into the luggage compartment, they have a way of mysteriously disappearing. Even the most diligent passenger can miss the inadvertent removal of his or her bag at one of the many stops along the way, only to later discover that it was redirected to some distant destination—not theirs. Also, be aware that despite “company policy,” baggage handlers seldom match your claim ticket to your bags, usually allowing passengers to walk off with bags that may or may not be their own.


Despite regulations against loud conversation between passengers or via cell phone, the use of profanity, or loud music, these annoying distractions are now all too common. Unless you are hard of hearing (or can turn your hearing aid off), forget about trying to sleep. Even at 2AM, do not expect passengers around you to have any regard for your personal space, nor for the bus driver to enforce regulations. Many of the drivers themselves think nothing of carrying on loud conversations with near-by passengers. Also, depending on the condition of the bus, the terrain, and the weather, you could be in for quite a scary ride. Broken windshield wipers, burned-out headlights, unbalanced tires, broken rearview mirrors, and malfunctioning turn signals are far from uncommon. Combine these disrepairs with a good rain or snow storm and you’ll find yourself wishing you had flown.


a) Surly bus drivers, rude and short-tempered ticket counter staff, apathetic baggage handlers, and disinterested customer service representatives are what you should expect. And should you become stranded, lost, or just confused about why your trip has taken an unexpected turn (which if you travel enough is bound to happen), don’t look for help in the terminal; in fact, expect to be berated for asking too many questions. I’ve seen passengers reduced to tears for just trying to find out what the last loudspeaker announcement said. Which brings us to language barriers.
(Disclaimer: the employee used here is for illustration purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the description above.)

b) Despite Greyhound’s continent-wide service (3,700 destinations across the US, Canada, and Mexico), terminals in many parts of the US are staffed by personnel who only speak regional dialects that can be quite difficult to understand for people not of that geographic area. This can make understanding boarding calls very frustrating as well as one-on-one communication while trying to resolve ticket or schedule issues.


While a short-lived slogan for Greyhound was, “There’s a reason you’ve never heard of ‘bus rage,’” in reality, safety is a genuine consideration when traveling by Greyhound Bus. Though it’s a comparatively rare occurrence, exchanges of harsh words between passengers that escalate into physical threats do occur—which can be quite unnerving. Also, due to the confusing and haphazard organization of many terminals (with no consistency terminal to terminal), pushing and aggressive behavior in boarding lines is quite commonplace. Understandingly, passengers who have been bumped from their seat (sometimes twice) can lose patience after spending hours in the terminal waiting for the next bus to arrive—only to be bumped again by more aggressive passengers who have forced their way to the front of the line. (On two occasions, I witnessed near-riots erupt inside terminals.) Additionally, some terminals are located in areas of cities where it’s common for homeless to seek shelter at night. And as regards the unsanitary health conditions on many buses, the possibility of contracting a virus or bacterium is a real concern.


There’s a "Contact Us" tab on Greyhound’s webpage, but don’t waste your time. While Greyhound invites complaints and comments both to their website as well as their corporate office, don’t expect any type of response for weeks—even months—and don’t expect them to ever acknowledge any wrong doing. They’ve become masters of dodging and eluding issues. Even a serious complaint such as one involving a pregnant woman who couldn’t use the restroom because the toilet was covered in feces and there was no toilet paper or sanitizer available was categorically ignored. Greyhound no longer cares about passenger safety or well-being—this is clear.


While for many year leaving the driving to Greyhound was a reasonable alternative to driving or flying, that is much less often the case today. High ticket prices, over-booking, uncomfortable rides, rude and discourteous personal, and sub-sanitary lavatory conditions can make for a very unpleasant experience. Cramped seating, rude and unruly passengers, degrading inspections, and apathetic bus drivers negate any possibility of just sitting back and enjoying the scenery. And while the conditions I’ve describe here are not reflective of every Greyhound Bus trip, they currently reflect the rule. In years past, they would have reflected the vast exception.

travelsmart(dot)gov (computer terminal)
blogs.ridemetro(dot)org (bus terminal)
sbsc.wr.usjs(dot)gov (boarding image)
barp.ca/bus/coach(dot)com (bus interior)
vagabondjourney(dot)com (baggage loading)
michael/taylor.ca(dot)com (on the road image)
hacer(dot)org (random personel image)
travelblog(dot)org (confrontation image)
i.sling(dot)com (angry traveler image)


Bus Rides, Bus Tours, Greyhound Bus, Travel, Travel Desination, Travel Tips, Travelling

Meet the author

author avatar James R. Coffey
I am founder and head writer for James R. Coffey Writing Services and Resource Center @ http://james-r-coffey-writing-services.blogspot.com/ where I offer a variety of writing and research services including article composition, ghostwriting, editing...(more)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Sep 2010 (#)

I haven't traveled by Greyhound in years. Back then a journey by bus was a pleasant one, nothing like what you are depicting here. After reading this I would definitely have to take a bus only as a last resort.

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author avatar James R. Coffey
6th Sep 2010 (#)

Yeah, a lot of us from 'back in the day' remember bus rides as pleasant experiences. Not so today, my friend!

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author avatar siboiss
9th Sep 2010 (#)

I last used Greyhound about a year ago. They do provide a decent service for those who have few other options.

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author avatar Melissa
6th Aug 2011 (#)

I have taken greyhound before and it was nothing like this. Yeah, its not the best form of transportation but its cheap. Its not great, but no one really bothers u if u have someone with u.

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author avatar Nancy
20th May 2013 (#)

I have traveling with greyhound alot stick to own business and be watching all the time.

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author avatar Jennifer
2nd Aug 2014 (#)

I just rode the bus from springfield missouri to visalia california now I never used the buses on board bathroom but some of the stations restrooms were not that good either no T.P., one smelled oh so awful, almost all had over priced food, drivers were the bomb n cared about their passangers safety , concerns n very respectful my luggage was lost for 5 days n had major problems with my ticket had 3ppl at stations tell me one thing a few more at cooperate say another which was totally diffrent from first n then 2 managers one from cooperate n one where I bought my ticket tell me another different thing ( ppl in cooperate office n ppl in bus terminals r not all on same page BUT SPRINGFIELD MO. MANAGER can't remember his name but if u ever meet him I'll know who he is was the best ,STAFF,n STATION (all did excellent job on fixing problems n finding my luggage n preventing it from happening again. N albaquerquie NM. (It's amtrak n greyhound together, PHOENIX ARIZONA TERMINAL, BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIA TERMINAL I GIVE (A+++) now LOS ANGELES needs to work on baggage personal n making sure luggage get on the right bus but security, employees n station I give a(B+ if not for the luggage issue A+) all by drivers A+++++ . But bus was uncomfortable my wifi worked only part of the time outlets on bus not all worked windows dirty and seats don't always recline out of 19+ stations one way on my trip like only 5 were great 3 were outstanding but most likely will not do greayhound again this was my first time greyhound round trip n most certain my last ILL STICK TO AMTRAK N THEY R WORTH EVERY PENNY

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author avatar Chi
12th Nov 2014 (#)

Greyhound doesn't provide premium services, but in return they give you cheap ass bus rates. And for short distances, (under 6 or so hours) its a great option. Amtrak is nice but it doesn't go everywhere, i take it if i can. I live on a college campus, but they are almost always twice the price of greyhound. If you know how to use greyhound, and how to look for prices you'll be fine. I've never experienced baggage loss, but i know it can be an issue, especially when there are transfers. Sometimes the bus smells like A** but then again, i paid 9 dollars for a 3 hr ride. 70% of my greyhound trips are pleasant and i take it maybe 15 times a year. Greyhound isn't the best option, but its the cheapest and most convenient. Oh and i have never seen a greyhound ticket that cost more than (or even as much as) a flight ticket.

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author avatar Lewis Seals
24th Jun 2017 (#)

I have created 4 tips, with the Lord's help, that may help with your Greyhound bus complaints.
As a former Greyhound bus driver and whistleblower I have an upcoming book called,"The Government, The Mafia, and Greyhound Bus Lines. You may reach my website for tips and information on the free book. God bless you!

Lewis Seals

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